ANC and Human Compassion

Thank God for Israel. Because if it wasn’t for the pesky Jews and their irritating country, we might think that the South African government didn’t own an emotion. But Israel is actually the only subject that evokes any response, and I guess, on some weird level, we should be grateful. Because maybe if they have the capacity to feel for Israel then they have the ability to feel for the suffering of their own people. It’s a stretch but where there is life there is hope. Hopefully.

This morning’s Sunday Times leads with the following headline – “ANC threat to ban dual citizenship. Move aims at stopping SA citizens serving in Israeli military. Party also wants to crackdown on private sector ties with Israel” And with that, the South African Jewish community suffers another body blow.

The fact that half the page is dedicated to this horror and the other half dedicated to pictures of the dead body of toddler Aylan Kurdi as he is washed ashore in Turkey is Irony 101. An idiot wouldn’t miss the fact that whilst our government threatens to go to war over Israeli tomatoes, children and families are experiencing suffering that we have not seen for some time.

The most simple minded would wonder why a government that is leading a country with one of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty, an ailing public health system, a overloaded and suffering infrastructure, an education system that is in tatters, corruption on a grand scale, rampant crime and collapsed currency would have the time, let along the interest, in this conflict. Why would a country who has repeatedly and deliberately ignored the plight of fellow Africans saying that they will not interfere in the domestic affairs of another country would be so interested in Woolworth tomatoes?

Why would a country who refuses the Dalai Lama a visa because of it commercial ties with China, a country who flagrantly ignores its own court ruling to arrest Omar al Bashir the war criminal, and then meets with him, have any right whatsoever to comment on business ties with the only democracy in the Middle East? Is it possible at all that they don’t think that they will be called on this?

Of course the fact that the ANC’s proposal is completely unconstitutional and that even if it weren’t, prohibiting dual citizenship with Israel means doing so with all other countries which will only isolate the country further, seems not to be much of a concern, but these things so often aren’t – as long as it relates to Israel.

The article might well be sensationalism and the reality is that given the level of South African Jewish leadership, the relationship between the community and government, pretty much nothing will come of this. But what it does is it serves to destabilise a nervous community that is constantly looking over its shoulder and wondering where the next affront will come from.

The South African Jewish community, along with Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora are experiencing unprecedented levels of anti Semitism. The South African situation is not unique, but for the fact that most people don’t actually believe that the government is inherently anti Semitic. Easily led, easily influenced, BDS high jacked and sometimes really, really stupid, but inherently not haters of Jews. And yet…

This situation will pass. I am confident of that. But whilst our government continues to focus on Israel, it means that it is ignoring that which is urgent and vital in its own backyard. And whereas maybe it’s easier to do so, it’s also incredibly foolish.

About the Author
Howard Feldman is a lawyer, a physical commodity trader by industry and a writer by obsession. He is very active in the Jewish community and passionate about our world.
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